The #AmINext protests of the past two weeks were a game-changer for South Africa, writes Adriaan Basson.
Showers early. Morning clouds. Mild.
Just a few months ago the DA was convinced that this was the perfect time for it to get the young black voters who had not lived under apartheid.
There was a narrative that assumed that the young black populous would automatically side with the DA’s point of view, particularly those who go to private schools and former white only schools.
This was also done by electing a leader who also looks like them. A black man called Maimane. At every turn, the DA denies that. Even Maimane himself has denied it even though he knows the truth deep down. But they couldn't be further from the truth.
The young’uns are angry. And that is great.
Rhodes must fall, Open Stellenbosch and other student protest movements around the country have shown that the kids are not alright. And rightly so. They shouldn’t be. Do we really have freedom or do we live in an era of pretend freedom?
The students are showing us that white domination is still at the root and needs to be rooted out. Fighting white domination is not the same as fighting white people. It is to show that the white institutions and white people who rule over them do not understand them nor are they making an attempt to.
We all recall the backlash that the #IAmStellenbosch campaign got from Twitter. It consisted of students from Stellenbosch writing on a white A4 page how colour blind they were. One was of an Afrikaans boy, smiling and holding a sign which read, “I am Afrikaans and I love jiga ma jiga.”
He loved it so much that he did not even bother to spell it correctly. While we are on that subject, just because you love what black people do does not mean you actually like them. Not that we are dying to be liked by racists.
Years ago, when I began my career in advertising, I managed to get myself a job in a small but highly regarded advertising agency. I had dropped out of advertising school after tremendous financial difficulty. Something that hundreds of thousands of black kids have to face every year still, and we all know the historical reasons behind this even though there are many people who still want to deny this truth.
The general defence of racism basically goes like this: If I, the person accused of racism can’t recognise my action as racism, then they are not.
As I say in my book, To Quote Myself, (let me quote myself), "The biggest challenge for black students who come from poor backgrounds and go to institutions of higher learning is not that they struggle because they are dumb. Rather, they struggle because the system is too dumb to understand their plight. There is no willingness to understand their problems, to help them navigate these uncharted territories. We have to learn the hard way and those who don’t manage to make it, end up dealing with self-doubt all their lives.
"In some ways, I felt penalised by the system for being black and poor... Even though the system had now been opened to me, and people like me, it wasn’t designed to accommodate me."
Even now, in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ, 2015, black students feel marginalised in the institutions they are in. The institutions are not designed to accommodate them. This goes from the universities right down to the work place. This is evidenced by the 2015 Jack Hammer Executive Report, which states the number of black CEOs has declined from 15% to 10% in just three years.
"What the report shows is that, although many black executives find themselves in very senior positions, only 10% of them were on the right track to the top.”
Black people are expected to fit into a system that was designed to protect and project white privilege. They are not supposed to fight it but rather accept the norm if they are to be accepted. This is why the anger is justified. This why Rhodes fell, incidentally, even though Rhodes, Rhodes did not fall, the spirit of Rhodes lives on but taking him down was an important symbol.
The DA has been largely silent around these conversations either because it does not want to upset its electorate, or it supports the condescending nature with which black students are treated with, i.e #IAmStellenbosch.
The kids seeing that DA has not seen to be vocal, means it is unlikely to get the gains that it believed it would get from this generation because the party still clearly does not understand black people. It sees us as votes, not as people who have to fight unspoken battles everyday, everywhere we go.
Few subjects get people heated under the collar than racism. It gets emotional and heated. Others tackle it head on while others refuse to talk about it at all in a misguided view that if they discuss it, it shows that they are racist because they see race. Saying you don’t see race is like saying you don’t see that there is night and day. GTFOHWTB.
No one wants to shut down discussions on how racism negatively affects black people more than someone who says to someone talking about race, "You hate white people".
Addressing racism and its effects is not an indication of a some deep hatred for white people. If you don’t want to talk about racism and how it continues to affect black people you are happy with the status quo.
Isn’t it sad that even when I write about racism I still have to explain to white people that we don’t hate them? Do you know why I do this? Because every single time black people bring up discussions about race, someone turns the conversation and makes it about white hatred.
It’s not going to be as easy for the DA to get this generation like it thought, when the party does not seem to understand them.
Even the black people in the DA seem to pussyfoot about the subtleties of racism in the country. This is not even to say that the ANC is the right vehicle for young black kids, it has its own problems with the young ambitious black person, but it is far closer to them than the DA right now.
I for one am proud of the young’uns.
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